Contextual marketing is the real business of the internet. Internet marketing has been a sad tale for many business people and entrepreneurs. And this is mainly due to three underlying factors:

1. The rules of marketing and PR have changed, driven by innovation and new technology.

2. How we consume content, as well as how fast we consume that content, has changed radically.

3. We consume content differently from different sources. What we expect to consume on LinkedIn is quite different than what we expect to consume on Pinterest or Instagram,

Contextual Marketing: Strategy vs Tactics

The commencement of any marketing initiative begins with research. It is the base on which the engine of marketing is placed upon, and unfortunately, the biggest omission in most everyone’s marketing plan. The purpose of market research is to discover the Who, What, Where, How, and most importantly, Why. Each and everyone of these questions must be answered in market research to ensure that content is contextual, as well as who will consume it. In other words, does the content authentically fir for the target audience that one hopes to influence? Bad messaging to the right people is ineffective. Good messaging to the wrong people is equally a waste of time, funds and effort.

Too many brands and marketers have become bedazzled by technology, believing that possessing a website, writing a blog or planting themselves on multiple social media channels is a marketing strategy. But in reality, these are tactics at best, and even then these can leveraged incorrectly or even to the detriment to one’s marketing efforts.

Developing Contextual Marketing Along a Strategy

When you understand the mindset, needs and the various ways that consumers seek context, then one can deliver the most relevant content possible. A content strategy would identify what content is expected, desired and important, as well as how it is rendered to them, media by media.

Simply posting a blog post and then sharing to every social channel is no longer effective. For example, a particualr blog post may be adequate to place on LinkedIn, but is it appropriate on Pinterest? In actual fact, with the mobilization of our world, content will have be developed and distributed in context to not only the targeted audience correctly, but what media channel that content will go on. As Gary Vaynerchuk pointed out in this 99U talk, social media is more than a “distribution channel.” More than ever, developing a content marketing strategy will become crucial so as to develop the correct types of content, reaching one’s target audience, as well as developing specific types of content depending on which media it is placed upon.

Contextual Marketing & Mobile

With the rapid growth of mobile marketing, contextual marketing takes on a whole new meaning and significance to businesses. While one can develop contextual marketing based on persona and media channel, one now has to develop contextual data based on the mobilization of consumers. Not only do we have to make our content mobile friendly, but the content must be contextual to their actual location in real-time. James Brayshaw, vice president, enterprise data management, location and GIS, EMEA at Pitney Bowes, stated in a British blog in February of 2014:

“Businesses are realising that geo-location analysis has become a way to more accurately target shoppers, but as yet, most marketing campaigns focus only on a person’s location and miss the opportunity to deliver more relevant messages and offers. Marketers are failing to take advantage of the wealth of additional information available once you know a location.

“It doesn’t matter if a consumer is a vegetarian – if the person walks past a mobile-savvy restaurant, they may get offered a discount for a burger. Marketers know their customers’ locations, but aren’t combining additional context with that location information to maximise the opportunity. Mobile marketing must leverage contextual relevance to evolve from a push to a pull methodology. Rather than using a customer’s location as the only foundation for marketing campaigns, businesses should also focus on contextual aspects of location and social data.

Combining context with geography
“By enriching customer profiles with data from social networks and then using geographic contextual data – from the weather to holidays to road conditions and anything in between – companies will be able build personalised marketing campaigns that are specific to a consumer’s needs and environment at that specific moment in time.

“If a retailer has enough of this contextual data about a consumer and their location, individualised marketing truly becomes possible. There is a trend in the market to capture a mobile user’s location history in order to add location context to regularly visited areas. Consumers are very predictable, as are their location and mobility patterns.

“A marketer now has the ability to target mobile consumers based on their location-based profile. A mobile user can be reverse-geocoded to detect if they are in an airport or a hotel. This information, while useful immediately, can have more value when analysed over a longer period of time. For example, this person may repeat the same pattern multiple times during the year and therefore be considered a ‘traveler’. This may mean they are receptive to travel-related goods such as insurance or car hire.”

Contextual Marketing – The Real Business of the Internet

Contextual marketing, on all levels and implications, is now the real business of the internet. Now is the time to get your executive and marketing people together and begin to brainstorm on how your brand is going to adapt effectively with the times. Moreover, you are going to need the help of marketing professionals, like myself, who are looking to bring together the best and more cost-effective methods to bring contextual content to targeted audiences.

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